— originally written April 3, 2013 for an extinct website —
When you look in the mirror, it is only a matter of seconds before you look away — not much time invested in learning your own features, and why should there be? After all, we are taught that to linger too long before the mirror is to be vain, self-seeking, obsessed with yourself.
What about looking at ourselves from a different perspective — through the lens of words rather than a layer of glass? Are you brave enough to look deeply into your own interior, using questions as tour guides and bushwhacking your own paths through uncharted territory? Is this also too vain?
Try this: Choose one perspective presented below and give yourself a thorough examination. Record whatever you observe about yourself, and whatever you might suspect is there — don’t bother to edit your writing at this “discovery” stage.
On another day, refine your writing into a more presentable format, and perhaps show it to a few trusted souls. Do they agree with your self-assessment? What would they add to your “mirror”?
Be a super-achiever! Try all three of the challenges below, each on a different day!
Perspective #1: A Day in the Life: You know how this one goes — describe one day in your PRESENT life, being as realistic and non-judgemental as possible. But this time, treat yourself as a scientist would — someone objectively observing a specimen. The laboratory is wherever you tend to go on a typical day — and you are affected by your changing environment, including the other humans and all the non-human elements of your surroundings. How does each element affect you? How do you affect different aspects of your environment? What elements have you changed to suit you? In what ways have you adapted to your environment? What things do not “fit” with the rest of the picture?
Perspective #2: Many of Me: None of us are ever really ONE unified person any longer — we play too many changing roles throughout each day. When you wake up in the morning, you may be Groggy Grouch. Half an hour later you might be Coffee Surfer… For this perspective, make a simple list of all the roles you play, from the obvious (parent, spouse, co-worker, employee, manager…) to the obscure (addict, artist, inventor, naturalist, athlete, coach, driver, referee, chef, manager…). Have a little fun and give little nicknames to some of these parts of yourself (like Coffee Surfer). Then take it a step further — for most or all of these separate parts of yourself, assess how you are — or are not – a natural “fit” for it. Do you have a talent for art and are being true to yourself by fitting in some time for it in the evenings? Are you fooling yourself, trying to be a professional bookkeeper when you honestly loathe numbers? Use each role or self-facet as a mirror in itself. What does it reveal about you?
Perspective #3: Take an Inventory: Simply answer each of the following questions in expanded list format, briefly explaining any answers you feel deserve a closer look. Keep your eyes open for areas which make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable — or angry! Put a little star next to those, and promise yourself to examine them in more detail later — for your own sake.
* What makes you unique — physically? mentally? emotionally? spiritually? in other ways?
* What are your inherent talents? What can you do well from training or experience?
* What are your deepest held beliefs? What do you you treasure most — from objects… to character traits?
* What things do you not like about your current self? Which of them are not within your control, honestly?
* How well do you really take care of yourself? Would a friend do a better or worse job of it?
* What are some recurring problems in your life? What solutions could you try, if there were no consequences?
* What are some activities you would try, or decisions you would make — again, if there were no consequences?
* What else do you wish you could understand better — or just remember more often — about yourself?